[Marxism] A more potent Opiate

i.lagardien-alumni at lse.ac.uk i.lagardien-alumni at lse.ac.uk
Sat Apr 29 10:47:58 MDT 2006

The issue of football as "the opium of the masses" was raised earlier... In all seriousness, I tend to conceive of national anthems as something that numbs the sense and stupifies the mind - based on a basic understanding of the effects of opium.

I have seen people cry (British football and rugby players), others entering into a trance when national anthems are sung (here I refer to my favourite rugby team, the NZ All Blacks, when, ironically, the Haka is much more fun)and in other places condemn those who will not bow to the flag, or bend to the national anthem. Stupification occurs once the pride, triumphalism, hubris and general self-righteousness overwhelms any sober thought.

I am speaking to the converted, I guess, but one of the greatest values I have derived from being a Marxist is the ability to recognise that issues like Justice or Equality (and of course, exploitation, oppression and domination), are not the preserve of any country - no flag, or national symbol has exclusivity, or a monopoly on righteousness, fairness, justice OR FREEDOM! In the same way, no social group, has a monopoly on oppression or persecution.

I (just) remembered a something. In a conversation with a South African cabinet deputy minister nine years ago, or so she argued that "the woman in Transkei" (code for indigenous African), was of greater concern to the Government than "the woman in Mitchell's Plain" (code for a woman classified 'coloured' during apartheid). A fair point in a general way. But then I asked, "do you mean the woman in Transkei who drives a Mercedes Benz, owns a petrol station and a supermarket" and the woman in Mitchell's Plain who works 10 hours a day as a domestic servant or on a shopfloor to feed five hungry children and an unemployed husband". 

She made some reference to my being disloyal to the ANC government's objectives, or being racist or some such inanity...


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